Weird passenger tricks lead to odd cruise news for 2010. Strange cruise news and other tales from the past year in cruising.
2010 was a tough year for the cruise industry with a bad economy and the prospect of even stricter environmental rules to come. On January 1st, 2010, the Cruise Safety Act of 2010 took effect. It requires all U.S.-based cruise lines to document any crimes reported onboard their ships if they affect U.S. citizens. Because of this new law we are now seeing more reports of accidents and domestic disputes on cruise ships than ever before, but we did not see the flurry of sex crime and "murder on the high seas" revelations that many "anti-cruise antagonists" had predicted.
Most of the cruise news this year was of the typical "life happens at sea" variety, but there were a few just plain "weird" stories. Some of these came from the newly vigilant Department of Homeland Security now watching the manifests of every cruise ship for people who may have warrants for their arrests. The other stories are now coming out because the cruise lines are legally required to report everything that results in a formal complaint on their ships.
The Oddest 2010 Cruise News Stories:
Last September 32-year-old Paola Londono stepped off a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale after a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean holding her own one-year-old baby. Paola approached the U.S. Customs inspection officer in the cruise terminal and handed him her declaration form. She had no idea that within minutes she would be wrongly arrested for prostitution - and held for 36 hours!
Six months earlier police in Kissimmee, Florida, had arrested another woman with the same name who failed to show up for her trial, however this other woman was of a different race, five inches taller and 40 pounds lighter and our Paola - the cruise passenger.
The arrest warrant states the actual criminal is 5'4" tall, weighs 125 pounds and is 27 years old. Our Londono is 32-year-old, 4'11" and weighs 165 pounds.
Londono was charged with prostitution, possession of heroin and other drug paraphernalia - solely because of the warrant from Kissimmee. She was not in possession of any illegal substances at the time of her arrest.
According to Broward County authorities they had no choice but to make the arrest because the name and birth date on the arrest warrant matched our Paola's cruise documents. They later said that the arrest warrant had somehow recorded the wrong birth date and that it "just happened to be the same" as Paola's, the cruise passenger.
Making matters even worse for Paola, she had to spend more than 36 hours in jail because she was arrested on a Sunday preceeding a holiday weekend Monday and the offices for the keeping of official records were closed on Monday. Her attorney had possession of the real criminal's mug shots and fingerprints, yet he was helpless to get the young, innocent mother released. To this day all officials claim they did the best job they could have done under the circumstances.
10 Carnival Passengers Kicked Off for Fighting
Last August ten people had their cruises terminated and were disembarked from the Carnival Dream during a port stop in Costa Maya, Mexico. All ten people were accused of brawling in the ship's dance club at 3:00 a.m. on a previous morning. Another person chose to disembark with the ten people who were forced to leave the ship.
The brawl was reportedly due to a disagreement over which song the disc jockey should play next. There were men and women involved in the fight which spilled into the art gallery located next door. Reports indicate that an art piece valued at $10,000 was ruined with splattered blood. There was also damage to several flat screen televisions.
Reports of the brawl indicate that people who fell to the ground were kicked in the head by the fighting men and women on both sides. One person was reportedly knocked unconscious and required assistance from the ship staff to be revived.
Carnival Cruise Line says that it assisted the eleven people in making flight arrangements to get home.
Elderly Couple Asked to Leave Queen Mary 2
Along the same lines, the upper crust Cunard Line made the tough decision to terminate the cruise of an 82-year-old woman and her 91-year-old husband. The elderly couple were dining in the Queen's grill, the top restaurant on board the ship, when an unidentified table mate told Gloria to "shut up" and added "there are too many [expletive deleted] Jews on this ship."
Gloria, who is Jewish, claims to have responded with a strong expletive of her own. However the surprise was on Gloria the next day when Commodore Bernard Warner, captain of the Queen Mary 2, asked Gloria and her husband to leave the ship when it reached Quebec the following day.
Gloria and Frederick Evans claim they were treated "terribly" by the cruise line. After deliberation the captain allowed the couple to remain onboard for six additional days - until the ship reached New York City - as long as the couple agreed to remain confined to their cabin. But the couple was denied a transatlantic voyage and Mediterranean cruise they had already booked and paid for scheduled to follow the New York port of call.
While many outsiders protested to the cruise line that the couple was only responding to the rude statements of their table mate and had every right to defend their faith, CEO and chief shareholder of Carnival Corp, Micky Arison (himself the son of an Israeli immigrant) later stated that the couple had "engaged in multiple incidents of disrespectful and disruptive behavior towards crewmembers and other guests" and that he fully backed the captain's decision.
The couple was refunded a mere $869, which the cruise line described as "the application of normal cancellation fees."
Man Arrested for Releasing Ship's Anchor
Rick Ehlert, a 44 year old California man, was cruising out of Tampa on the Holland America Ryndam last November when late at night, after several hours of drinking, Ehlert entered a restricted area at the bow of the ship and released the ship's anchor. Apparently, Ehlert, who is an amateur yachtsman, recognized the simple latch that held the anchor in place and just decided to let it go to see what would happen.
The ship was fully underway in open sea at the time, and had the anchor caught onto the sea floor in such conditions the amount of damage done to the ship could have been extensive. Fortunately, no damage was done before the anchor was returned, but the action was described as "extremely dangerous and reckless behavior" by the cruise line.
Ehlert remained at large and was not charged until the FBI had a chance to review surveillance footage of the incident upon the ship's return to Tampa and identify him as the culprit. He also admitted to throwing a life ring overboard, apparently "just for fun". Now Ehlert faces a possible 20 years in prison for endangering the lives of the passengers onboard the ship.
What if You Throw a Cougar's Cruise and Nobody Comes?
Carnival Cruise Lines agreed to a group booking upon a regular cruise ship for a company hoping to capture the "Cougar" audience. Cougars are older ladies who "prefer the company of younger men" also known as "cubs." The term cougar has become more popular lately as older women dating younger men has become more common.
The first Cougar Cruise was scheduled for a three-day cruise from San Diego to Ensenada onboard Carnival Elation. The group was only 300 people on a ship that has a passenger capacity of 2052.
The Cougar's Cruise went ahead as scheduled, but soon after Carnival announced it would not be hosting any more Cougar's Cruises. The line canceled the second Cougar's Cruise it had already scheduled, but did not reveal the reason why.
As details slowly emerged it appears that the problem was too many cubs and not enough cougars (although this has not been officially verified by anyone connected with the group or the cruise line).
It rarely happens, but there must have been an over-abundance of single young men onboard this cruise - and they were there for one reason only. While we don't know exactly what happened, our guess is that these men propositioned just about every lady of every age in sight. The problem is that these cruise novices probably did not know that most cruises are comprised of happily married couples and families. We think Carnival received a number of complaints from innocent and unsuspecting cruisers on the same ship but NOT affiliated with the Cougar's Cruise.
After Carnival canceled Cougar Cruise Two, both Royal Caribbean and NCL announced they would be happy to host Cougar's cruises on their ships. So Cougar Cruise Two was held in May on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and the third sailed aboard NCL's Norwegian Sky in late November.
Neither the second nor third Cougar's Cruises received the same amount of media hoopla as the original, so we are guessing that once the group's rules got, um, stiffer the media became more blasé.
If you have any more weird cruise stories from 2010 please post them in our forums!